Meet the chocolatier having sweet success after being inspired by chocolate shops over 500 miles away
Meet the Dronfield woman who is living her dream as a chocolatier after setting up her own business over four years ago.
Deborah Crump, aged 45, who is originally from Sheffield but now lives in Dronfield, owns the artisan chocolate company I Dream of Chocolate.
After living in France for a year, Deborah was inspired by memories of wandering and exploring French chocolate shops and began dreaming of creating something a little bit closer to home.
The dream became a reality in 2016 when the 45-year-old started the business, which she runs on her own.
She uses locally sourced ingredients and Belgian chocolate to produce a selection of delicious treats from her own dedicated 'chocolate workshop' inside her home.
Deborah said: “I started because years and years ago I lived in France for a year and there were all these lovely tiny little chocolate shops. They're like little jewels and are just full of fabulous chocolates; they always reminded me of little jewellery boxes. So I wanted to create a bit of that and that is where it all came from.”
“I started at the end of Christmas in 2016, and there has definitely been an increase in interest over the years. People want to buy from the small producers, I mean, the big companies are still going to be there, but people are more interested in where things are coming from and how things are made.
“Because I am making small batches, my products haven't got the stabilisers in them. They don't sit on a shelf for six months; they don't have all those additives in them. My chocolates are fresh, and I think people are moving more towards that."
The growth of the craft chocolate industry has been driven by an increase in the number of people actually consuming the sweet treats – it is something that is admired by children, youth, adults, and the elderly.
The global market for craft chocolate has been a multibillion-dollar industry since the last decade, with its value expected to grow.
It is now a preferred gift for all kinds of occasions, including wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, valentines, and any other celebration, boosting the growth of the craft chocolate market even further.
Deborah added: “There has definitely been an increase in interest and sales. Gradually, through the pandemic, there has been more interest with people wanting to keep it more local.
“If you are going to have something like chocolate, you might as well make it something nice. It's about having that little treat for yourself or for someone you are buying a gift for. Why not make it something special."
These handmade chocolates are created in small batches to ensure freshness and quality and Deborah uses the finest Belgian chocolate that supports cocoa farmers and sustainable cocoa cultivation.
Cocoa is grown in some of the worlds poorest regions; with it being a complex crop, it is crucial to support measures to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through the promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity and community development.
When choosing the ingredients for her chocolate Deborah aims to use products from local Sheffield makers, saying that “It’s all part of the cycle.”
She often buys cream from Sheffield Dairy farm, Our Cow Molly, and uses Sheffield Honey for her honey and nut range of chocolate.
Most chocolate makers use the bean-to-bar model for production, but Deborah prefers to source Belgian chocolate and focuses her attention on the flavours within the chocolate.
She said: “I'm not a bean to Bar Maker. I buy the Belgian chocolate because I think they do it very well, and then I create the flavours that go inside them. I concentrate more on the flavours within the chocolates and within the bars as opposed to the chocolate itself.”
Her most popular products are those with a traditional approach.
She believes this is because people find it nostalgic, taking them back to their childhood when flavours like chocolate orange were made popular by confectionary maker Terry’s Chocolate Co.
The production of chocolate involves a process called tempering, which is the heating and cooling of chocolate to stabilise it for making candies and confections.
This method gives it a smooth and glossy finish and stops it from easily melting on your fingers.
It also allows it to set up beautifully for dipped and chocolate-covered treats.
Deborah said: “It all depends what you are making, but the basic is tempering, so I hand temper all the chocolates. I don't have machines to do any of that. I think it makes a nicer snap on the outside of the chocolate. So every day, there is always tempering to be done, which I find quite soothing.
“You’ve got the smells of chocolate all around you because of the molten chocolate around. This helps you not eat all of it yourself, as most of your taste comes through smell anyway, so I am enjoying the chocolate as I'm making it.
“If I am doing some of the truffles, I begin by making up the filling that goes inside them. Some of them can take a couple of days in preparation because you'll have to set some of the pralines inside before you start dipping.
“For filled chocolates, you’ll have to prepare all of your moulds and colouring if you want that on there. In some cases, you might have to create designs before you even get to the other things. Then you have to make fillings that you might want to pipe into those.
“It's quite an involved process depending on whether you are doing the truffles, the filled chocolates or anything else.
“The chocolate bars are probably the most straightforward as the toppings, for example, cherry and almond, can just be put in and then as long as you've got nicely tempered chocolate, you are guaranteed a nice bar and by the end of the day you can have a lot of those made up ready to be packaged for customers.”
When asked what she likes most about her job, Deborah said: “The best thing is just having that freedom to immerse yourself in something you love. My kitchen is always filled with the smell of chocolate and I can create whatever I want in that kitchen, I have total control over it. It's just about that feeling of being involved in something I really enjoy, and the more you do it the better you become at it. At the very start, I would have to think very hard about the science of it all, but now it just feels very natural and it's just a pleasure.”
Deborah will be attending the Yorkshire Chocolate festival, which is set to be held at the city’s historic Kelham Island Museum on October 24 and will include over 50 stalls featuring all things chocolate as well as workshops and live music.
It will be hosted by youth homelessness charity Roundabout, and organisers say it “promises to be an experience like no other” and will be South Yorkshire’s first-ever chocolate festival.
For more information about I Dream of Chocolate and to to browse the range of products, visit http://www.idreamofchocolate.co.uk/